Sous vide sousgestions (Ugh, apologies for the worst title ever)
October 14, 2013 9:52 AM   Subscribe

We cook a lot with our sous vide machine but it is invariably: meat (beef/chicken/pork) seasoned with salt and pepper in the bag, then into a hot pan to sear, possibly with a sauce added after. The results are great, but we've fallen into a rut, and it would be nice to mix it up a bit. Can you share your tried and true sous vide recipes--particularly for recipes that can be prepped and then frozen for later use?
posted by Admiral Haddock to Food & Drink (13 answers total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
Scott Heimendinger just mentioned on Twitter doing carrots in duck fat. Kenji from Serious Eats says that SV carrots taste more carroty than carrots do to begin with. So yeah, carrots are on my "to make in the first week" when my Sansaire comes in. Not many people think to do vegetables, I guess?

There's also a ton you can do with poached eggs beyond breakfast. Kenji breaks down SV eggs in this post.

Plus, even if you do meat, nothing says to can't do more with it, like short ribs into a stew, or "poached" chicken (SV, not seared) into a salad or on top of polenta.
posted by supercres at 9:58 AM on October 14, 2013 [3 favorites]

it is invariably: meat (beef/chicken/pork

Well, that is pretty much what sous vide is for: the controlled cooking of protein. There's no way to make cookies with it. (although I am sure someone has tried)

I've done vegetables a few times but don't really see the point. In general, I do not think the technique suits vegetables. I've liked how it's done salmon, which I usually cook to medium. I have used it to make onsen tamago (about 30 minutes at 145F). I did scrambled eggs a time or two but didn't think it was worth the effort. When I first built by sous vide rig a few years ago, I went through a phase where I was trying to use it to cook everything. Now I view it as having a particular purpose just like my toaster and microwave do.

Check out Doug Baldwin's book. He also has a number of recipes on his site and on YouTube.
posted by Tanizaki at 10:08 AM on October 14, 2013

These are three recipes I never tire of:

Duck confit - I tend to eyeball doneness, and use less fat, but I've cooked it so many times I can experiment. It's hard to mess up.

Korean bbq short ribs - I usually make a huge batch of the marinade and freeze that as well. Don't substitute for another cut of meat - I don't know why, but it was not nearly as good.

Lemon curd - (scroll down to it) I don't know how well it freezes. It's the most delicious thing in the world. I add it to greek yogurt. I've also made strawberry and blueberry variations.
posted by subject_verb_remainder at 10:27 AM on October 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

First, I would recommend not salting the meat in the bag. Especially for long cooking. People have done experiments and salted after cooking always seemed to win.

Other than that, I agree with Tanizaki: cooking proteins is the main game. There are a few things you can do with vegetables, but they are generally speaking not so spectacular to be worth the effort. You can also use the technology to make delicate emulsified sauces such as Hollandaise, etc.

If I were in your shoes, I would rather branch out more into the protein possibilities.

For example, have you ever done 72 hour medium-rare short ribs?

What about confit? Have you made duck leg confit? Chicken drumstick confit? Chicken gizzard confit? These are all things you can freeze right in the bag and thaw/consume at your convenience. It's also amazing how much flavor can transfer into the meat from something as small as a sliver of lemon peel.

One thing I have had good luck with is spatchcocking whole chickens and removing all the bones except for the drumstick bones (save these up and make free chicken stock!). I then deploy herbs, bag, cook, chill, stack and freeze in the deep freezer. Now, whenever I feel like having a chicken dinner for 2 - 4, I can just chuck one of the bags into a sink full of warm water until it thaws and then run it under the broiler until the skin gets crisp.

If you don't have Modernist Cuisine at Home, I very much recommend it, as well as its big brother.

Another good source of inspiration in sous vide cooking is ChefSteps. Their technique for thick cut french fries employs a sous vide step, and yields amazing results. Other good ones using SV techniques include chick pea tuna salad, no-smoker "apartment" ribs, whole poached chicken, and braised pork belly.
posted by slkinsey at 10:35 AM on October 14, 2013 [5 favorites]

I love all manner of seafood in mine. Scallops, lobster tail, shrimp, thick cuts of fish. The essential method is the same, I prefer lemon pepper, no salt and very low heat (125 max). Finish with a quick sear like any protein.

I've done a variety of veg, but frankly not really worth the bother. Eggs, both hard boiled and soft boiled are a favorite of ours. Its also the ideal way to reheat almost anything, but especially BBQ (ribs, pork, you name it).
posted by Lame_username at 10:38 AM on October 14, 2013

As an aside, it's fun to see where this has gone. Ten years ago it seemed like SV was only used in fancy restaurants, and I was part of this small group of weirdo home cooks snagging used laboratory circulators off of eBay and trying to figure out how it all worked. Now, there are several companies marketing SV equipment specifically for home use.

Never have been able to get eggs quite the way I want them.
posted by slkinsey at 10:46 AM on October 14, 2013

I can only do cooler sous vide, but I made Watermelon “belly” grilled, sous vide, and sauteed in duck fat served along side tuna sashimi for this project a couple of years ago, I think based on this idea, and it was awesome. [Sorry, I just redundantly said a dish that involved searing in duck fat was awesome.]

Point being that sv has interesting applications for some non-protein items as well.
posted by Mngo at 10:50 AM on October 14, 2013

Also, to make it eponysterical, I think you should work on haddock wrapped in bacon done sous-vide.
posted by Mngo at 10:55 AM on October 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

The blog Nom Nom Paleo has quite a few sous vide recipes.
posted by vespabelle at 11:15 AM on October 14, 2013

Seafood is great for sous-vide, because it takes a lot less time than poultry or beef. We sometimes do shrimp, scallops, or salmon in the sous vide machine - just a little bit of butter and herbs, and it takes about an hour, during which you can prep other parts of the dinner.
posted by emily37 at 11:33 AM on October 14, 2013

Uber-caramelized onions
posted by O9scar at 2:44 PM on October 14, 2013 [4 favorites]

It's interesting to me that there are any number of things that work just as well in a pressure cooker (short time/high temperature) as in a sous vide bath (long time/low temperature). Needless to say this doesn't apply to medium rare meats and just-cooked fish. And the results aren't equivalent. But, for example, things like pork belly adobo and carnitas can be done both SV and PC with amazing results. This is also true with many vegetables. As for things like caramellized (actually mailliardized) onions, there is really nothing gained by doing it SV and it can be done easily and quickly with no advance planning in a pressure cooker.

One SV application I forgot: sous vide hamburgers! Get a huge un rimmed hunk of something really beefy like short rib or chuck. Trim off all the sinews and the external fat later, and render this down. Then double-grind the beef, form it into loosely-packed extra-thick patties, put them on a sheet pan and freeze them. Once frozen, vacuum-bag them individually with a tablespoon of the rendered beef fat each and store them in the freezer. The beef fat provides flavor, good thermal contact when cooking, and added protection in the freezer. Pre-freezing the patties before bagging prevents them from being compacted. So... When you want burgers, you take a bag or two out of the freezer and drop into a 55C water bath for 45 minutes. Prepare your condiments and heat up 5 inches of frying oil in a tall pot to ~400F. Once you pull out and de-bag the burgers, pat them dry and deep fry each one around 20 seconds to get an amazing crispy crust with perfect medium-rare in the middle. Too much trouble for just once, but if you prep a dozen burgers at a time and keep a supply in the freezer, it's really convenient. Don't put salt in the ground beef, or it will have an overly bound "sausage-like" texture.
posted by slkinsey at 5:39 AM on October 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

Pretty much once a week we make eggs at 144F for 50 minutes, cracked open onto toasted brioche, garnished with salt, pepper, and sriracha. We like our eggs pretty runny so you might want to raise the temperature a degree or two.
posted by dfan at 1:04 PM on October 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

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